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Cure for Bad Breath in Dogs

For most dog owners, one of the favorite ways to spend time together is cuddling and being close together on the sofa, possibly even watching television together. Some of the appeals of being close to your pet can be diminished when you realize that your pet has such bad breath that you’d prefer to keep your distance.

Many owners have simply accepted this as a fact of life, something that is just natural for dogs, given the kinds of foods in their diet, and the fact that they don’t practice anything like the good oral hygiene that humans do.

While it may certainly be true that dogs don’t brush their teeth three times a day, it doesn’t necessarily mean that better oral hygiene wouldn’t improve their breath. Bad breath in dogs is not something that you need to accept as an owner, and it’s definitely something that can be managed if you’re willing to take the time and help your dog maintain a fresher mouth, so she can be a better company.

Causes of Canine Bad Breath

Your dog’s breath doesn’t smell bad because of the food it eats, nor because it doesn’t brush and floss afterward. The most common causes of unpleasant breath in your dog are really that bacteria is building up inside its mouth around food particles which have not been removed.

Dogs are really subject to the same kind of bacterial growth that humans are when food particles are left in the mouth, and not removed by brushing and flossing. Once those food particles stay a while, plaque builds up around them, and a yellowish-brown material called calculus eventually forms.

Both these substances give off an unpleasant odor, and they can cause even worse problems. If this situation goes on unchecked, it will eventually attack the teeth and gums in your pet, potentially causing gum disease and other problems with your pet’s teeth. Your dog will be irritated by the action going on inside its mouth, but of course, it has no recourse other than what you as master and friend choose to do.

If gum disease does is allowed to form, that will contribute greatly to the bad breath problem, and also jeopardize your pet’s teeth for the long-term. Needless to say, this should not be allowed to happen inside your dog’s mouth, and there are some very definite steps you can take to help alleviate this before it ever gets started in earnest.

an owner inspects their dogs teeth that has a build up of plaque which can cause bad breath.

A very common source of bad breathe in dogs is a build of plaque on their teeth.

More Serious Causes

In some cases, bad breath in your pet can be caused by a more serious situation, for instance, mouth problems, or issues which are developing in the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, or even with internal organs. If you notice that your dog’s bad breath persists even after measures have been taken to remediate the unpleasant odors, it’s certainly worth taking your pet to the veterinarian for an examination.

If there is something serious going on internally, and you didn’t have it checked out, you would more than likely feel some major regret later on. Another telltale symptom of something potentially serious is when the bad breath condition develops very suddenly, where none was in evidence before.

When your dog’s breath is fruity or sweet, that could be an indication of diabetes, especially if you’ve noticed excessive drinking and urinating from your pet lately. If your dog’s breath smells like urine, that could be a sign of kidney disease, and any foul odor which is accompanied by vomiting might be a sign of a liver problem developing in your pet.

Treatments for Bad Breath

One of the easiest and most natural ways to help your pet maintain healthy gums, healthy teeth, and reasonably pleasant breath, is to provide it with products that aid in the cleaning process, and which are at the same time, at least tolerable to eat as food. There are a number of products on the market which help in this regard, and some of them even promote good health for the teeth by encouraging a good chewing action.

It might take a little bit of experimentation to find a brand of dog chews that your own pet will appreciate, but it’s certainly worth it, because if you can find one your pet likes, you’ll be able to make it part of the regular diet, and it can be a significant contributing factor to good oral health.

There are also some products which are not intended to be ingested by your pet, but which simply promote chewing action, along with at least modest cleaning action. Many of these are marketed as much toys or rawhides, and they can easily become your dog’s favorite chew toy.

You should be able to tell after a week or so of having your pet chew on one of these, whether or not it’s doing any good with oral health. There are also products on the market which are billed as tartar removal products, and if your dog will tolerate these, they can be very helpful also.

If you are a really committed master, you could even go all out, and buy your dog its own toothbrush and dog toothpaste, and try to establish a regular routine where you clean the dog’s teeth to the best of your ability.

While some dogs are not especially inclined to sit through such brushing sessions, if you can train your pet to sit at least semi-quietly through them, it will certainly go a long way toward improving its oral health and having much fresher breath for those pleasant evenings together on the sofa.

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What are The Best Cat Treats You Can Buy for Your Cat?

It seems strange to say, but in terms of special little food items like cat treats, most pet owners tend to treat their companions better than they do themselves. While there are a great many health-conscious people who do their best to avoid sweet treats, there are still a lot of us who just can’t deny ourselves those delicious sweet confections.

That’s why there are so many bakeries, ice cream stores, and specialty dessert shops all around the country, catering to that sweet tooth that most of us have a predisposition for. We all know how bad all that sugar is for the body, and what terrible things it does over a period of time, but still, the majority of Americans just can’t resist the occasional sweet treat.

Oddly enough, most pet owners don’t extend that perspective to their dogs and cats – treats that we give to our pets are generally much healthier than the ones we eat ourselves. Here are some of the best treats that you can provide to your cat, all of them lacking the empty calories, food preservatives, and sweet tastes that we as humans, like to indulge ourselves with.

Oral Hygiene Chews from Virbac

The great thing about these small cat treats is that they deliver a kind of scraping action when chewed, which helps remove plaque from your cat’s teeth. If allowed to remain in place, plaque cannot only cause bad breath in your pet, but it can also generate bacteria that can lead to gum disease and tooth problems.

Short of brushing your cat’s teeth, there’s probably no better way to remove all the nasty plaque and food particles which tend to remain lodged in your feline’s mouth. In addition to the scraping action, these chews have natural enzymes which resist the formation of new plaque. Made from freeze-dried raw catfish, these tasty little bites are loaded with nutritional ingredients that your cat will love, and which will provide good oral health as well.

Purebites Freeze-dried Cat Treats

These particular cat treats are made from freeze-dried meats, which means that your cat will absolutely love them. They’re low in calories and high in protein content, with a great flavor to boot. As soon as your cat gets a whiff of the great aroma of these treats, there will be a rush to the food bowl to begin the fun.

Since the meat content has been freeze-dried, all the flavor and all the nutrition is kept intact, while excess moisture is removed. These are especially good for cats who may be a bit overweight because there are only 2 calories in each bite. If your cat is the finicky type, you will certainly be able to find a variety of Purebites which suits your reluctant pet, since they come in flavors such as salmon, shrimp, chicken, and beef.

A cat owner checks the teeth of his feline friend after giving him a cat treat that is good for its oral hygiene.

Unlike human treats, cat treats can be great for the oral hygiene of your cat.

Wellness Kittles Crunchy Cat Treats

If your cat is one that prefers a crunchy kind of treat rather than a soft and moist texture, these are the treats you should buy. Wellness Kittles Crunchy Cat Treats offer the perfect combination of nutritional value and flavor, because they each include one of six very meat-rich flavors, with no grains, artificial additives or food by-products mixed in. Not only are these extremely flavorful and nutritional for your cat, but the crunchiness also serves to help clean your pet’s teeth, so they contribute to good oral hygiene as well.

Yeowww! Catnip

When you’re thinking of various kinds of cat treats, probably something like catnip does not come to mind right away. However, as most cat owners already know, catnip is a treat that most felines just go crazy for, and can’t get enough of. Catnip is made from the Nepeta Cataria plant, which is in the family of mint plants and bushes.

The plant itself makes a chemical known as Nepetalactone, which is a naturally-occurring pheromone that is very similar in composition to the pheromones which cats themselves produce. There’s nothing addictive about catnip or the active ingredient it contains – it’s just one of those natural substances that make your cat feel like it’s king of the world.

A single exposure to some good catnip will produce effects that endure for 20 minutes or longer, and during that time, your cat will probably be doing things that dazzle, amaze, and amuse you, but for your companion, it’s just a great feeling.

The particular brand favored by many pet owners is Yeowww! Catnip, because it comes in loose bags, is organically grown, and is packaged as a blend of flowers and leaves. There are no stems included in the catnip bags because they lack the active ingredient and would just add weight, but little value to the mix.

This means you get a very high-quality mix, which your cats will just go berserk for, and which you will enjoy because it’s so appealing to your pet. Because it’s organically grown, the Yeowww! Catnip brand has a very powerful scent which cats and kittens just adore, and which lasts longer, so as to extend their enjoyment.

You can buy this product in half-ounce bags or 1-ounce bags, and every bag is filled to the limit. If you’re looking for a really nice non-food kind of treat for your cat which will be wildly appreciated, you can’t do any better than this wonderful little treat.

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Where Does Your Dog’s Food Come From?

Have you ever thought to read the label closely on the dog food which you purchase for your cherished pet? Does it matter who manufactures the food, and where the product is even made in the first place? In many cases, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’, and the discussion below will point up why it matters both to you and to your dog, and why you should pay close attention to the ingredients, and the process used to make the food which is intended to keep your dog active and healthy for its entire life.

You Owe it to Your Partner

When you become a pet owner, there’s a certain implied responsibility involved, because that dog is trusting you to provide it with the nourishment that it needs to live a full, healthy life. For its part, the dog will provide companionship and loyalty, and depend on the breed and personality of the dog, it may even provide a good amount of affection as well.

You can count on your dog being a reliable partner in all your endeavors, and even just for quiet times at home, so you need to be just as reliable in your support of that partner. A big part of your dog’s natural motivation in life is to eat, both regular meals and the occasional treats, which you supply daily to meet their needs.

This makes a very important that you provide your pet with food which is safe for them, which is nutritious, and which is sourced from well-qualified manufacturers in the industry. To be sure that your pet is getting everything it needs from high-quality dog food, your best bet is to always look for American-made products, and which are almost entirely natural in content.

All-natural foods are best for your pet, as opposed to a lot of fillers and additives which provide almost zero nutritive value, and are simply meant to fill your dog’s stomach. That’s why it’s important for you to check the label on any dog food purchases you make, so you can be sure you’re providing quality food to your favorite pet. Here are some other advantages of being very conscientious about what you feed your dog.

A red bag of dog food spills onto the floor because its lower quality than other brands and makes exaggerated claims about whats in it.

Some dog food brands make exaggerated claims about whats in their food in order to sell more bags of dog food.

Benefits of US-Manufactured dog Food

There are some very strict rules and regulations imposed by governmental agencies in the U.S. regarding the manufacturing of dog food and its distribution throughout the country. In fact, there are rules and regulations about affixing the ‘Made in the USA’ label to any product which is made for sale as pet food.

This is closely monitored by the Federal Trade Commission, and all pet food manufacturers are held accountable to this high standard. Absolutely everything which goes into the manufacture of dog food must be ingredients entirely produced in the United States, without even trace elements of any foreign products being included.

If the ingredients in any particular pet food product are not 100% produced in the United States, the label cannot be affixed to the package, or there must be a clearly visible disclaimer notifying consumers of the trace ingredients and their content volume.

This is one of the reasons why as a consumer, you should avoid all the flowery language on the front of the package, which makes extravagant claims about health benefits and nutrition, and go straight to the label on the backside. You can be sure that everything listed in the packaging label is 100% accurate because it’s completely monitored by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, relative to the accurate listing of all foodstuffs and ingredients, and the percentages of each within the package.

One other thing you should check on the label of your pet food is who actually manufactured the product. Many companies do not actually make the product themselves, but simply have it made for them, and cover it with their proprietary packaging.

The reason this is important is that those companies who actually produce the pet food products themselves tend to have somewhat higher standards which they adhere to in the process. Companies which simply purchase it from a source producer and apply their own packaging, are not quite as interested in high quality from the pet food producer.

Check with Professionals

If you’re having trouble finding just the right pet food product to feed your dog, and you’re finding it difficult to sort through all the claims and hype surrounding a number of those products, you may want to simply consult with professionals.

Keep in mind that many pet food companies are aware that consumers are seeking products which are ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ and ‘loaded with nutrition’, so they deliberately stuff those words all over the packaging, and in their commercials to get your attention.

Much of this hype can be misleading, and you could easily end up with an inferior product if you don’t take a little bit of time to research it. A good bet would be to consult your local pet shop management and find out from them whether a product you want to buy is a good nutritional product that would be helpful for your pet.

Most pet shop professionals are more than willing to share their knowledge with you, so if you are really at a loss, just ask them what they feed their pets in the store. Chances are that it will be a good choice for you and your pet as well.

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Clicker Training for Your Chihuahua

Recently, an entirely new training method has emerged and gained rapid popularity for training certain types of dogs like Chihuahuas. Using a clicker, and the old principles of conditioning and positive reinforcement, a pet can be trained to perform a task for a reward in a fairly brief period of time.

Each clicker training session makes use of positive reinforcement, wherein the dog is given some kind of treat as a reward for accomplishing the task. The clicker is a small handheld device made of metal, which is encased by a plastic coating. Each time the dog trainer depresses a strip of metal on the device, it generates a ptopping sound which sounds exactly the same every time it’s done.

The point of using the clicker in this training technique is to convey to the animal the precise moment when a task is to be performed, and if the dog reacts appropriately to the sound, positive reinforcement is provided in the way of a reward.

The thing that makes this technique so effective is that the clicker designates a precise moment in time, and it is exactly the same every time, so there is no possibility of misinterpretation or confusion on the animal’s part.

During ordinary training which involves human voice commands, this kind of misunderstanding is possible, because there can be minor little differences in tone and voice fluctuation which the dog could easily misunderstand. From the standpoint of the dog, it’s a very simple situation – the same clicker sound is made, a task must be performed, and a treat gets provided.

Controversy About the Training

Some detractors point out that this training method has some drawbacks, in that it won’t work if the trainer does not have a reward ready to give to the dog. If the clicker is not visible, or for some reason is inaudible, the dog will miss the signal entirely, and not realize that a task should be performed.

Other points of contention are that it may cause the dog to gain excessive weight, when sessions are extended to include multiple rewards for multiple tasks, which is, of course, common at the beginning of the training routine. It has also been pointed out that if the dog becomes too old to adequately hear the clicker, or of any other environmental distractions interfere, the signal could be missed, and the training would be voided.

 

A Chihuahua responds to a audible cue and looks up at its owner during a clicker training.

Chihuahuas are very good at picking up on audible and visual cues in their trainers making clicker training so effective.

Converting Clicker Training

One way to avoid some of the potential pitfalls of clicker training is to gradually phase out the clicker routine after it has been sufficiently learned by your pet so that a similar routine could be implemented with the same results. For instance, the clicker itself could be replaced by a simple hand gesture or a verbal cue, and the concept can even be extended to phase out the reward part of the training as well.

Granted, this will take a bit longer with most dogs, but it has been shown to be effective in situations where the dog first understood the concept of the clicker routine very well. Transitioning to cues other than the clicker are readily adopted by many dogs once they have an understanding of the process, although the absence of a reward may take a little longer to impress upon your trainee.

How the Training Works

Before you begin your first training session with the dog, you have to convey the notion that each time he hears the clicker sound, a reward will be forthcoming. This is the critical component of the training, and it is very important that the association is made in the dog’s mind.

It won’t take long before a dog quickly learns to perk up or react to the sound of a clicker, because it sounds like nothing else in nature, and it means something special is coming. In the first phase of training, the most important thing is to establish this association, where clicker sound equals treats.

In phase two of the training, the desired task needs to be introduced to your Chihuahua, and the first tasks that you choose should be things that your dog is likely to do anyway, such as laying down or sitting. When your dog successfully completes the task, immediately follow up with another click sound, and then a reward.

The reward aspect is also very important, because it will provide motivation for your Chihuahua to complete the task, and it’s also critical that the reward is immediately forthcoming, so it is directly associated with the sound of the clicker, and the completion of the task.

Something you should not do during training is to make extra body gestures or any other sounds which might cue the dog to perform an action without the clicker sound. You don’t want the dog performing the action simply because he expects to hear the clicker.

The whole point is to trigger the proper behavior from the dog only when it hears the sound of the clicker. Keep in mind that Chihuahuas and dogs, in general, are extremely good at picking up on body language and voice fluctuations, so all these need to be filtered out during your training sessions.

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Purchasing the Right Dog Bed

If there’s one accessory that you go out an purchase for your dog, it should be a nice, soft dog bed that your pet can claim as her own, and which she can withdraw to whenever she’s ready for a nice snooze, or just for a little relaxation time.

It’s well-known that dogs are territorial creatures, and that this characteristic usually expresses itself in those things that your dog considers as her own. One of the most important such objects is the place where she sleeps at night or just retreats to when she’s tired. Some dogs, of course, prefer to spend the majority of their relaxation time on the sofa, or on someone’s bed, but it’s still worth your while to have a designated dog bed set up for those times when she really prefers to snuggle up into her own little cushion.

This is to your advantage as well, since it can keep your pet off the cold floor, and it can go a long way toward keeping fur and pet dander off the furniture, and isolated on the dog bed. If anyone in your family has allergies, this is especially important, because the dog bed can be situated somewhere that allergy sufferers will be less affected by it.

Your dog will love you for providing her with something warm and insulated in cold weather, and for providing the sense of security which all dogs need to have. Here are a few tips on how you can go about finding exactly the right dog bed to please your pooch.

The Way Your Dog Sleeps

Before you begin your purchasing quest, you should understand that all dog beds are not the same and that they can be different in a wide variety of ways. You will be able to find dog beds which are heated, made of memory foam, mattress style, sofa style, various geometric shapes, orthopedic, and even constructed in cot style.

It may be a bit overwhelming at first, but if you have some kind of idea what you’re looking for, that can make things a whole lot easier. The first quality you need to consider when looking for a good new dog bed is your dog’s sleeping style. In the same way that humans have various sleeping styles, so do dogs, with some preferring to curl up into a ball, while others sprawl out to their full length.

Some dogs like to burrow into their bed like a mole and feel that security around them, while others prefer to simply lean up alongside something while they rest. Take a few days to scout your dog’s actual sleeping behavior before you go shopping so that you’ll know the style of bed you really need to purchase in order to please your pet.

Level of Activity and Physical Size

Another major factor in choosing a specific kind of bed for your dog will be its physical size, and this should be large enough to accommodate your dog as it sleeps. You will have learned all about this from your observations already, so you can look for a bed size which is somewhat larger than your dog’s overall length during sleep. An active dog will require a sturdier bed, with a cover that’s thicker, and more durable than would be necessary for a relatively passive dog.

A large golden retriever rests in its large durable bed selected based on the activity level and size of the dog.

The physical size and activity level of your dog are two factors that will affect which bed you should buy.

Washing Instructions for the Dog Bed

This might sound a little curious, but another criterion for determining the kind of bed you buy will be its washing instructions. You will undoubtedly run into the need to wash your dog’s bed multiple times over the course of its life because assuming your dog makes regular use of the bed, it will quickly become dirty and probably cluttered with fur and hair.

If your dog tends to be somewhat smelly, that fragrance will be imparted to the fabric of the cover, and if your dog has any problems with urine leakage, that will also be imparted to the cover.

When you don’t purchase a dog bed which can be easily washed, you may end up throwing it out after some period of time, and simply buying another one to replace it. There are dog beds which come with removable covers that are easily unzipped and washed, and these are ideal for many situations.

Budget Issues

You probably won’t have to worry much about being stuck with a dog bed that looks grossly out of place with your existing decor, because these days you can find dog beds which can fit in with almost any style of interior decoration.

Of course, that may cause the pricing to be escalated somewhat, so you may want to consider what kind of price range you can afford for your dog bed before you even begin shopping. Chances are though, that if you’re willing to look around and shop at more than one store to find just what you need, you’ll be likely to find two, three, or even more good candidates at least.

Then the only problem you might have is trying to decide which of several good possibilities you want to purchase for your beloved pet.

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Keeping Chinchillas as Pets

Chinchillas are a rather unusual pet for most people, but they can be wonderful little companions if you’re not bothered by having a relatively high-strung creature as a pet. They’re a bit like squirrels in their quirky, active natures, but they don’t emit any loud or obnoxious noises, they don’t develop any unpleasant odors, and they have relatively long lifespans, so they’ll be with you a while. You will also love picking them up and holding their luxuriously soft fur. Here are some of the things you need to consider if you’re going to make a chinchilla your next pet at home.

Getting the Right Cage

You could make your own cage if you have those kinds of skills, but most likely you’ll want to buy one online, or simply go to the local pet shop and pick one up. The only real characteristics you need to allow for are making sure that it’s roomy enough to accommodate your new pet, and that it can be comfortable when it’s looking to relax.

As a general rule, it would be better to get a bigger cage than you think you need because they’re very active little creatures that do a lot of climbing, jumping, and running around. It’s a good idea to purchase a cage that has several levels to it and is taller than it is wide.

Air Temperature

Once you’ve got your cage picked out, you should figure out where in the home you’re going to position the cage, so that the temperature is right for your new pet. Obviously, you should not place it next to a door or a window, because temperatures have a tendency to fluctuate in those situations.

If you can situate your cage in a spot that has a steady temperature between 60 and 75°, that will be just fine. Don’t allow the temperature around the cage to exceed 80 degrees, or it will be subject to heatstroke, and humidity should be kept below 60%. If you see your chinchilla’s ears starting to turn red, that’s a telltale sign that overheating is in progress.

Installing Cage Bedding

Some woodchips are harmful to chinchillas, so it’s very important that you get the right kind of bedding to put at the bottom of your chinchilla cage. Avoid any kind of bedding that includes cedar or conifer chips. The ideal chips to use for your chinchilla cage are those which are non-treated, preferably of a type like Appletree, Willow, Birch, or Aspen. At least once a week you should clean out your chinchilla’s bedding, and replace it with some fresh material.

Accessories for the Cage

One of the first things you should buy as a cage accessory is a large wheel because exercise is very important to the chinchilla’s health. Most of the time, it will be sleeping through the day and will be more active at night, so it will be best if you have some kind of appropriately sized den for them to sleep in throughout the day.

Little plastic dens are perfectly all right, and you can even make your own by just poking a hole in the side of a container that’s large enough for them to pass through. Make sure to include a few chew toys and a few sticks for your chinchilla to chew on, because their teeth require constant gnawing in order to keep them correctly sized.

A chinchilla is feds a delicious snack that chinchillas enjoy that keep it healthy and happy.

It’s important to make sure you get the proper food for your chinchilla so they remain healthy.

Food for your Pet

Chinchillas are unable to digest most kinds of green plants, and they don’t do well with protein or fatty foods either. In fact, the only kind of food that a chinchilla really does care for is hay, so if you can supply them with some fresh timothy each day, that will be all they really need.

If fresh timothy is not readily available all the time, you can also supply your chinchilla with hay pellets in a bowl, and they’ll be munching on these contentedly throughout the day or night. If you want to mix things up briefly sometime, you can give them a treat consisting of lettuce leaves and nothing else.

It’s better that you don’t mix up their diet much at all, because even small variations tend to give them digestive problems. In short, feeding your chinchilla is going to be one of the easiest aspects of its care, because there isn’t really anything that they like to eat other than hay.

Chinchillas Baths

The first thing you need to know about chinchilla baths is that you should never get your chinchilla wet because their fur is so thick, it’s literally impossible to ever get it dry again. Since this is the case, fungi can start growing in their fur, or it can begin to rot away.

If you happen to accidentally get your chinchilla wet, you should dry it off immediately to the best of your ability, making sure that you use both towels and a hairdryer which blows no heat.

The chinchilla baths that you purchase in a pet shop actually hold dust, which is necessary to soak up the oils and dirt which are on their skin and on their fur. Most chinchillas will do this at least a few times a week on their own if you leave the chinchilla bath in place in their cage, but some enjoy it so much, that they’ll do it several times daily without being prompted.

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How Can Therapy Dogs Change People’s Lives?

Pet therapy centers are springing up all over the country these days, as more and more people are beginning to realize the highly therapeutic effect that pets can have on humans. Building on knowledge learned about how dogs can help humans recover from feelings of stress, anxiety, loneliness, depression, and low self-esteem, these centers are being established for the purpose of providing that kind of assistance to humans who have been diagnosed with those particular issues. Often working with medical specialists, these therapy dogs are matched with human counterparts in need of companionship, to help them cope with their particular mental or emotional issues.

The Physical Aspect of Therapy Dogs

The benefits received by the human partner don’t end with mere companionship, however. In addition to the emotional and mental support provided by therapy dogs, there can be a physical component which is just as important to the relationship.

In the same way that studies have borne out the emotional benefits of pet companionship, similar studies have demonstrated that having a regular pet companion can contribute a great deal to the physical aspect of a person’s life. Numerous studies have shown that the majority of people who have pet companions are more active, because they take them for walks at least once a day and usually more, and they engage in other activities like play time with them.

The increased activity, in turn, is a great exercise that triggers the release of endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones in the body, responsible for improving mood and making people feel better. In the same way, petting and stroking a dog’ fur is also therapeutic, in that it soothes and relaxes, and at the same time tends to shift a person’s focus away from themselves onto their pet companion. This is ideal for patients with mental issues because at least temporarily, it allows them to forget about their own problems, and project outwardly with another creature.

Therapy dogs are being pet by hospital patients which helps relieve their stress and anxiety from their treatment.

Therapy dogs can have a positive, calming effect by simply being physically present in patients lives.

Dog Therapy Certification

Of course, all these benefits provided by therapy dogs are not quite left to chance, in the hope that any given dog will prove to be a suitable companion for a person troubled by mental issues. There are centers around the country which have been implemented for the purpose of selecting dogs with the right characteristics to become therapy dogs, and these dogs are then put through a program to learn skills which will enhance their already suitable nature for this kind of work.

Many dogs which have been rescued from less than ideal home situations, or which have been abandoned, are considered for inclusion in the program, provided they demonstrate the qualities deemed desirable as therapy dogs. The organizations which seek out these candidates, look for qualities in a dog such as being fun-loving, devoted to a master, active and playful, and with no trace of meanness or aggression.

Once a dog has been identified as being suitable for the program, they are put through a series of courses designed to improve on these qualities and to help them respond better to human instruction and commands. Dogs which successfully complete the course are then certified as therapy dogs and are made available to medical professionals who are aware of the program, and understand what can be accomplished with human patients in need of this kind of companionship.

Other Uses for Therapy Dogs

The scenario described above is not the only way that therapy dogs can provide tremendous value to persons in need of their friendship. Some owners of therapy dogs contribute their time and their pet’s time in situations where they can provide benefits over a short period of time, in settings like nursing homes, hospitals, and schools.

This, of course, is not usually an ongoing benefit to the people in those institutions, but even a relatively brief exposure to therapy dogs can literally light up a person’s day and improve their attitude noticeably.

It should be noted that therapy dogs are not the same thing as service dogs, because service dogs actually are given special training that helps them perform pre-defined tasks for persons who are in some way disabled. A good example of a service dog is one who has been trained to lead a blind person safely through social situations without harm.

This type of dog would be one which stays indefinitely with its master so as to provide ongoing service in that same specialty. While therapy dogs do undergo training, it is not specialized training to benefit someone who is disabled, but the training is instead more focused on providing companionship and affection on a more limited basis.

Those dogs which been certified for this kind of service receive a title of AKC Therapy Dog, but they do not have the same status as service dogs, which are allowed on planes, in grocery stores, and other settings where ordinary pets would not be allowed. This is because service dogs are necessary at all times for a disabled person, regardless of wherever they happen to be. The same cannot be said of therapy dogs, even though their companionship is very often considered essential by a partner.

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Dog Dental Care: Tips on Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

The most common of all diseases affecting canines is dental disease, and fortunately, it is also one of the most treatable and preventable of diseases. You maintain healthy dog dental care by providing a crunchy diet, regular chewing treats and making sure that your dog’s teeth are brushed daily to keep them in good shape.

You may have some difficulty when you first start brushing your dog’s teeth, but soon it will become a matter of a daily routine, and then your dog may even look forward to it, because of the attention you give during those sessions. Here is a guideline you can use for dog dental care.

Start Young With Dog Dental Care

It’s very important to start good dog dental care habits as soon as your pet comes into the home, ideally while it is still a puppy. At that time, most things are new to your pet, so tooth-brushing is just one more new thing your canine will have to get used to. It’s always best to get your pet started off with a healthy, clean mouth early in life, so that a pattern of good dental health can be established and maintained.

Materials Needed

You won’t need much to get the job done, but you should make sure you have the right materials when brushing your dog’s teeth. This calls for a soft bristled toothbrush and a special toothpaste which you can get from your veterinarian. It’s not advisable to use baking soda or toothpaste meant for humans, as these can cause problems for your pet.

The toothpaste that you get from your veterinarian will be specially formulated for pets, and it will usually have appealing flavors that your dog will like. Make sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush, because it’s critical to brush below the gum line, and only these kinds of toothbrushes are effective for that purpose.

A vet brushing a dog's teeth for optimal dog dental care.

For optimal dog dental care, it’s a good idea to get your pet a professional teeth cleaning at the vet’s office. Your vet will use a special toothbrush to remove plaque and tartar buildup in your dog’s mouth.

The Importance of Daily Brushing

Daily brushing of your dog’s teeth is essential, especially with using a brush that will remove plaque from below the gum line. Plaque is constantly collecting the surfaces of teeth and near the gumline. In less than two days, this plaque can become mineralized into a substance called tartar. Tartar can’t be removed by simple brushing, but can contribute to periodontal disease in your pet. Give special attention to the upper back teeth in your dog’s mouth, because historically it’s this area which is affected first and most severely by periodontal disease.

Designate a Time of Day for Brushing

Try to make the time of your teeth brushing sessions convenient for your pet, and something which minimally disrupts the daily routine. If you plan your brushing sessions right before a daily walk, or directly before you give out a special treat, your dog will associate teeth brushing with a pleasant experience and look forward to the brushing.

Getting Started

At the very beginning, it’s best to just familiarize your dog with the taste of the veterinary toothpaste, by dabbing a little on your finger and running it along the gum lines of your dog’s mouth. Then you can run your finger around the upper teeth and lower teeth to get your dog used to the sensation of pressure there.

Follow that up with the toothbrush itself, so that your dog can become familiar with the feeling of the bristles against its gums and teeth. If you encounter serious resistance from your pet, you may have to limit yourself to these familiarizing exercises for a few days, without actual brushing.

Once your pet has become sufficiently acclimated to the feeling of the brush against its teeth and gums, you should immediately begin actual brushing sessions. Your technique should be to angle the bristles of the brush slightly upward on the upper teeth (and downward on lower teeth) part of the mouth so that the brush is sure to get under the gum line.

It’s best to work from the back toward the front, moving the toothbrush in slow circles that will dislodge any plaque which has already built up. It should take under a minute to address all tooth and gum surfaces in your dog’s mouth in this manner, unless you encounter difficulty with your pet’s behavior. If this should happen, make sure that you always start with the upper back area because it’s the most important one, and it’s the one you don’t want to miss each day.

Professional Dog Dental Cleaning

Unless you know for sure that you’re doing a great job every single day brushing your dog’s teeth, it’s a good idea to seek a professional clearing periodically just to be sure. Just like with people, daily brushing should catch most problems before they can degenerate into a dental disease, but in practically all cases, a professional cleaning catches material that was missed in the daily routine. An extra level of attention is always appropriate for maintaining good dental health in your pet, and you can be confident of avoiding any dental disease.

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Puppy Grooming: When Is the Right Time to Start?

The right time to start grooming your puppy is a more important question than you might think because grooming too soon can be just as bad as starting the process too late. The ideal time to begin puppy grooming has to wait until after it has been weaned from its mother, which in most cases is in the neighborhood of eight weeks or so.

It should also be after your new puppy has become acclimated with its new surroundings in your home, and with all family members as well. A good ballpark figure for when to start is at around 12 weeks, which accounts for weaning, adjusting to its new home, and readiness for new experiences.

It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t overwhelm your puppy at that first grooming session because it will be very difficult to have your puppy stand still for an extended period of time. This will run counter to its natural instincts, which for many types of dogs includes being full of energy and enthusiasm, and not standing still for grooming.

The First Grooming Session

If nothing else, your first puppy grooming session should include a bath, and possibly blow drying, and even this is quite an accomplishment, because it calls for getting your puppy used to standing in a tub, relatively quietly. This should not take a great deal of time, so it will not put undue strain on your puppy to remain in place for too long.

If your puppy tolerates the bath and blow drying fairly well, you can add nail clipping to your grooming session. When it becomes fairly obvious that your puppy has grown used to grooming sessions, you can also attempt to do some hair trimming wherever it’s needed. Trimming fur from around the eyes is one of the places where it’s most needed, but that’s also one of the more difficult areas to get your puppy used to.

This of course, calls for considerable caution with your scissors, but once you have your puppy used to the sight, sound, and feel of scissors, you’ll be able to do whatever hair trimming is necessary. Not all puppies will take to the notion of standing quietly on a table or in a tub, so this along me take some getting used to, but it’s an essential part of the grooming process, so you have to stick with it.

A full haircut for your puppy will probably not be necessary for the first few sessions, so only fur trim should be attempted. By the time your puppy has become used to trimming, a full haircut will not be much of an extension.

A pet store professional puppy grooming.

Starting puppy grooming when your dog is just a few weeks allows them to establish good habits before they become harder to train.

Why Start Puppy Grooming Early?

It may seem that starting your puppy grooming at between 8 and 12 weeks is too early and that it might be better to do it later when it’s a little more mature and perhaps less energetic. In truth, however, it’s much more challenging to begin grooming with a puppy more than a few months old. In those first six months of its life, your puppy will have already developed particular fears and which can inhibit the process of grooming, and make it more difficult.

In many cases, puppies who have reached the age of six months or over are also much more aggressive and are much less tolerant to the kind of patience and restraint necessary throughout the grooming process. If puppies reach the age of six months without already having been exposed to bathing, brushing, blow drying, nail clipping, and haircutting, it will undoubtedly be a much more difficult process to get them used to. You can expect to spend a lot more time trying to get your puppy used to all the activities associated with proper grooming if you don’t initiate the process before the age of 12 weeks.

Puppies Grow Up Fast

Your dog begins maturing at around six months, which is another good reason why your puppy grooming should start well before that. Part of that transition involves having your puppy’s fur change over to an adult coat. It’s especially crucial during this period that you do thorough brushing and combing of your puppy’s coat, because if left unattended, it can become matted and tangled in with the emerging adult fur.

When that happens, grooming becomes much more difficult, and can be more uncomfortable for your pet. Some breeds of dogs do not naturally shed their juvenile fur, and that means it has to be vigorously brushed out during grooming sessions. If properly attended to, this will allow your pet’s adult coat to grow in naturally and smoothly, and result in a very healthy and attractive-looking coat.

By starting your puppy out with good grooming sessions at an early age, you can ensure that your pet will enjoy the experience much more, and will always look its best.

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Helping Your Overweight Cat Stay Healthy

It has been conservatively estimated that at least half the domestic cats in this country are overweight. This is a situation which real pet lovers should take seriously, rather than brushing it off. In fact, it’s very unhealthy for your cat to be overweight, and it can seriously affect its overall health, as well as the cat’s expected lifespan. Excess weight is relatively easy to identify in your cat since pouches of flesh can protrude on both sides. A healthier, slimmer cat will have a ‘straight-line’ profile down to the ground, rather than the saddle-bag look characteristic of an overweight cat.

Given the fact that your cat’s health and longevity can be severely affected by being overweight, as a pet owner, you should do what you can to help your cat lose weight so that it can enjoy better health and greater longevity.

Manage Calories and Fat Intake

The healthiest foods for cats are highly digestible, with a high meat content. Domestic cats have evolved over centuries from predators in the wild which were obligate carnivores, creatures with digestive systems adapted to extracting their nutrition from meats. Domestication has changed many of the habits of house cats, but not their natural digestive systems.

A great way to control fat intake for your cat is to feed it canned or raw foods. If your cat’s primary diet consists of dry foods, make sure that the dry foods you’re feeding it are specially formulated to promote weight loss. These kinds of dry foods will include sufficient levels of nutrition, with only small amounts of calories and fat.

In general terms, the most beneficial approach to feeding your overweight cat is similar to the ideal eating approach for humans – feed them smaller and more frequent meals. Most packaged or canned cat foods will include guidelines for how much to feed your cat each day, and in some cases, will even recommend measured portions.

This is a good idea, because these recommended portions do follow nutritional guidelines on how to maintain good health. You can go a step further by calculating the total recommended food portion to be given your cat each day, and dividing that into five or six smaller portions. This way, the total amount will be the same, but smaller portions each time will space out the meal times, and keep your cat from feeling too hungry.

An overweight cat eats wet food.

Even though cats prefer dry food, it’s high in carbohydrates. Often, wet food is a better option for helping overweight cats slim down.

Keep Your Overweight Cat Active

Studies have shown that pet owners who play with their cats frequently, and who encourage their cats to play on their own with toys, will generally have healthier pets that are less prone to being overweight. There are of course, other benefits to frequent playtime with your cat, such as bonding more with family members, but keeping it more active with increased play is one of the most beneficial for its overall well-being.
It may take you a while to find out which kind of toys your cat prefers, but start out with toys that look like prey, such as a mouse, a big insect, or a bird. Many cats also have favorite colors, and with a little experimentation, you might be able to find out if your own cat has a favorite, which you can then exploit by purchasing toys of that color.

You can also increase your cat’s interest in any particular toy by including a dab of honeysuckle or catnip on the toy, which will appeal to its sense of smell. If you want to get creative, you can build your own indoor obstacle course or fitness trail, where you create little tunnels, plank ramps, chairs, and tables for your cat to navigate. By including healthy treats along the way, you will encourage participation, and increase the likelihood of their continued interest.

Cater the Environment to the Cat

In some cases, you may need to adapt your home environment somewhat to encourage more active behavior from your cat, especially in situations where you have multiple cats at home. It’s typical in such cases for one cat to be more dominant, and to eat a larger share of the food provided. You can prevent this by feeding the larger cat on the floor, and create feeding areas more elevated for the other cats, or you can feed the less dominant cats in separate rooms entirely.

In single-cat homes, you can add to your cat’s enjoyment of the home environment by providing empty boxes or bags, paper towel tubes, or toilet paper tubes, cat trees, or scratching posts to make your cat more comfortable and more active. When a cat feels less anxiety or stress at home, it will generally be more inclined to participate in fun activities that represent good exercise and healthy activity, all of which contribute to helping your overweight cat shed pounds and enjoy better health.